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Stock futures gain after sluggish start to September with key jobs data ahead

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Source: The New York Stock Exchange

U.S. stock futures gained slightly on Thursday after the S&P 500 finished the first trading session of the month near the flatline.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up by 67 points. S&P 500 futures gained 0.2% and Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.2%.

Key jobs data the next two days could dictate trading. On Thursday, weekly jobless claims are expected to fall to 345,000, down from 353,000 in the week prior, according to economists polled by Dow Jones. Friday brings the big August jobs report, which investors are watching closely to decipher how fast the Federal Reserve will remove easy monetary policy. Economists predict 720,000 jobs were added in the month, down from 943,000 jobs added in July. On Wednesday, ADP data showed U.S. companies created fewer jobs in August than expected.

There were very few big movers in premarket trading. Shares of Moderna were up 1%. Shares of ChargePoint, the maker of charge systems for electric vehicles, jumped 12% after reporting stellar quarterly earnings. Pet retailer Chewy and retailer Five Below saw shares tumble 9% and 8%, respectively, after reporting quarterly results.

Chipmaker Broadcom is scheduled to report quarterly results after the bell Thursday.

The market was mostly lackluster on Wednesday, the first trading day of September, with the Dow dipping 48.20 points, or 0.1%, to 35,312.53. The S&P 500 finished the day near the flat line, gaining just 1.41 points, or 0.03% to 4,524.09.

But the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.3% to 15,309.38, hitting a record.

“The relentless march higher on low volatility in U.S. equities continues and with breadth, volume positioning and sentiment measures all positive in our view we look for the rally to extend further into new highs yet,” Credit Suisse said in a note Wednesday.

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Energy stocks fell during Wednesday as oil and gas prices continue to rise with Hurricane Ida shutting down oil production and refining operations. Those losses were offset by gains in utility and real estate stocks.

Small-cap stocks made bigger moves, with the Russell 2000 index gaining 0.6% on Wednesday following a 2.1% gain in August. Analysts and investors say that movement in small caps is tied to a move higher in value stocks.